Contributed by – Preksha Buttan
Every year prostate cancer takes the lives of many men around the globe. Your best defense against it is early diagnosis. And for that, doctors often recommend routine PSA tests. These are simple blood tests that measure the level of a specific protein in your blood. Having it in high quantities is extremely common in prostate cancer. But that isn’t the only cause of high PSA levels. Your age, lifestyle, various other medical conditions and even the method used by a lab for testing can potentially influence your test results.
So, if you have had a PSA test recently and it came back high, then don’t make any assumptions yet. Your doctor will order further tests to make a final diagnosis. Meanwhile, understand these other causes of high PSA levels.
PSA levels in your blood tend to increase as you age. Even if you don’t have any prostate-related issues, these levels will go up. Consequently, normal PSA levels for each age group also varies. So, ensure that the reference range you are considering specifies normal PSA values for each age group.
Prostatitis is a condition wherein the prostate is inflamed. It’s often a result of bacterial infection and can be chronic. If you have prostatitis, your PSA levels may rise and you may experience difficulty and pain while urinating, fever, pressure in the rectum, ejaculation problems, and changes in sexual function.
Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH)
Benign prostatic hyperplasia is the enlargement of the prostate gland. It means that there are more cells in the prostate which in turn means more cells to make PSA. As a result, your PSA levels in the blood will rise. Although BHP is common in men over 50, treatment is not always required unless it’s causing frequent or difficult urination.
Anything that causes trauma to the architecture around the prostate gland can cause your PSA levels to go up. Placing a catheter into a bladder is one of the most common causes. Prostate or bladder exam which involves passing a scope or taking a biopsy is another cause. It takes a couple of days for the PSA levels to go down after such tests. Therefore, a PSA test should ideally be performed a few weeks after these medical procedures.
Urinary tract infections
Any kind of infection near the prostate gland, including urinary tract infections, can irritate and inflame the prostate cells. This will cause PSA levels to increase. If you have been diagnosed with UTI, then make sure that you wait for the infection to clear up before going for a PSA test.
Ejaculation may cause PSA levels to increase for a while. Although elevations are usually not enough to make a significant difference unless your PSA levels are already on borderline, you should wait for a couple of days to get tested for PSA as the levels return to normal in this time frame.
Though the PSA test is non-specific, you should go for it at regular intervals especially if you are at risk of prostate cancer. Early diagnosis is the only way to win the battle in this case. However, if you have high PSA levels with no other symptoms or risk of cancer, then instead of worrying and panicking, let the doctor find out the exact cause.
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